Airline Pays Passengers To Fill Seats

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Facing a deadline to meet a target on its route from Norwich, England, to Dublin, local airline Flybe paid 172 temp workers to fill the seats, Reuters reported on Monday. The airline had to transport at least 15,000 passengers on the route in the 12 months ending on Monday, or it would forfeit a 280,000-pound ($550,000) rebate from the airport. The airline tried to negotiate a partial rebate for coming close, but the airport said it was all or nothing. Flybe also offered free flights to all comers via its Web site, but when it still came up short, the temps were enticed with an open bar. Richard Jenner, managing director of the airport, called the airline's strategy "ludicrous" and said the target had to be met by regular fare-paying passengers, Reuters reported.

"The ludicrousness is on the Norwich side, who in essence have tried to hold us to ransom, putting at risk routes into Norwich," Flybe Chief Commercial Officer Mike Rutter responded. Environmental advocates attacked the unnecessary flights as "absurd," and called the airline an "environmental vandal," according to the UK Press.